I’ve caved into the peer pressure. My friends have constantly told me that I should write a book on my international dating stories and it would probably be longer than the Bible. Instead, I’ve decided to start a new column on Shut Up and Go. Same thing.
All the names are changed, so don’t try stalking my Instagram to find these people. You won’t. Also, if you just happen to be reading my article and realize I’m talking about you… well… Hello! Olá! This is awkward. Just know I’ve already gone through all the weird emotions involved with me thinking you may be reading this… so a supportive DM or WhatsApp message would go along way. I’m just trying to make people smile (or laugh) and I hope you enjoy the story as well.
Anyways, without further ado… let’s time travel back to January 2016.
Next Stop: Downtown Crossing
Yup, here I go again, meeting another random guy off of Tinder. After all of my “amazing” luck using dating apps and the countless lectures from my mother about meeting with strangers, you think I would’ve learned my lesson. (Newsflash: I didn’t). However, being gay and having a dating pool the size of a puddle did not really offer me many alternatives.
I leaped out of the T, eager to meet my enchanting new date in the heart of Boston. His name was João and he was fresh out of Brazil. After pacing around the metro station for about ten minutes, my gaze fell upon a handsome guy with long, flowing hair. He glanced in my direction, flashed me a grin, and began to walk over. He was even cuter in person. Socorro.
Oi Mike, tudo bem?
Let’s note that at this point, my Portuguese was rudimentary at best. I had not yet lived in Brazil and everything I knew came from my trusty sidekick Duolingo. English was probably the best way to go at this point… but hey, I tried anyway.
Tudo bom, e você?
For the next hour, we lost ourselves in the winding streets of Boston. He told me about his experience growing up on the coastal city of Santos along with his former high school exchange in the USA. At the same time, he confessed to me how self-conscious he was about his absolutely perfect accent in English, while I was still coming to grips with the word Puxar meaning “to pull” in Portuguese. Real talk though, now I’m fluent in Portuguese but I still look like an idiot every time I enter a building in Brazil.
We eventually made our way to the North End, Boston’s version of “Little Italy.” I grabbed us a seat and some cappuccinos at The Thinking Cup as we got to know each other more. This quaint café was one of my favorites in the Northeast, with an old-school décor, delicious desserts, and newspaper headlines adorning the tabletops.
João continued to tell me about his life’s ambitions. His dream was to explore the world, so much so that he had a world map literally tattooed across his back. He planned to finish his undergrad in the States, dash over to Europe for his Masters, and perhaps do a stint in Asia afterwards. We joked about how our parents will never understand our ambitions (Update: they still don’t). However, the more I talked to this boy, the more I realized how much I had in common with him. Have you ever talked to someone who seemed like an exact clone of yourself? Someone with the same beliefs? Same opinions? Same ideas on life? That’s what I experienced with João.
Of course it was too good to be true. His school was up in the middle-of-nowhere Maine yet I was based in Boston. After our date, we headed back to the T together. A few minutes later, he told me “This is my stop, it was so nice meeting you!” we hugged, and walked off.
We were not able to meet again while he was still in Boston, but I knew someday I would have to see him again. I mean, we didn’t even get to have a first kiss… come on.
A few months have passed since I last talked to João. Now I am in Geneva studying international law at the United Nations while simultaneously going broke. If you’ve been to Switzerland, you know the struggle – am I right?
All of a sudden, a familiar name appears on my screen. It’s João. He reminds me that he is embarking on a Eurotrip in July and sends me an itinerary of the cities he’s heading to and the dates he’ll be there. Surprise, surprise! I had planned a four-day birthday trip to visit friends and family in Rome, and he was set to be there on the same exact four days. At this point I was convinced, it was destiny.
On my 20th birthday, I wrote to João, telling him to meet me under the shadow of the Colosseum. Meanwhile, I dressed in my best Zara outfit and then set out into the city. The tram took me all the way from Trastevere to Piazza Venezia, and I made the rest of the journey on foot. Once I arrived at our meeting point, I realized that João had no internet connection. When there’s a crowd of at least a thousand tourists, this can quite easily be a problem. After a few minutes running in circles, I looked up and I saw him standing above the train station. I caught his gaze and he smiled back at me.
Rome had been my home for six months in 2015 and is easily of my favorite cities in the world. João was lucky to have me as a guide because I knew exactly where to take him. We threw coins into the Trevi Fountain, marveled at the Pantheon, befriended some stray cats at the spot where Julius Caesar was brutally murdered, and of course – devoured platefuls of pasta in Trastevere. I thought of pulling the whole “Lady and the Tramp” stunt where we share a stray spaghetto and eventually our lips meet, but I assumed his friend who was sitting next to him wouldn’t really appreciate that. Yup, I forgot to mention that she was with us the whole time. Awkward.
As we ate, João told me that the rest of his trip would be a bit hectic as he had planned a packed itinerary of sights to see with his friend. However, I told him that in the evenings he was mine. Fortunately, he was not opposed to the idea.
The next night, we had already planned to meet at il Gasometro. This was an outdoor summer venue along the Tiber river, conveniently named after the gasometer that towers over it. Once you walk onto the grounds, there is a lineup of outdoor bars and clubs playing everything from new age techno to Italian pop music.
I storm in at 22:00 (because the whole AM-PM thing doesn’t exist in Europe) looking fresh as hell with my crew and ready to dominate the night. We meet João at the entrance and head in to get some drinks and dance the night away. Fast-forward to a few Spritz later, and I’m feeling a whole new level of confidence. My friends and João form a circle on one of the dance floors and I’m trying to dance while also hiding the fact that I really don’t know what I’m doing. All of a sudden João looks in my direction and we kiss – finally. It’s pure magic.
He leads me off the dance floor and we head down an antiquated staircase leading to the Tiber. We can hear the music blasting above us, but all of it seems to fade into the distance as we walk, hand in hand, along the flow of the river.
Rome has mystical powers, they say. She makes you fall in love with her, while also somehow making you fall for whoever you experience her with. I have lived all over the world, but Roma is the only place where my emotions run wild, as if I lose complete control.
The next evening is a sad one, as it is our last together. João tells me that he’ll meet me at the usual place at 22:00. I grab a drink with my English buddy Kieran but he notices that I keep checking my phone.
It’s 22:30 Mike, he’s not coming.
I thought João’s emotions were sincere. Maybe I was reading everything wrong. 22:45 soon approaches, then 23:00. All of a sudden, my phone buzzes in my pocket. It’s João.
He tells me he’s on his way. We meet outside the Colosseum for one last time. However, our time together is not long enough. João tells me needs to rest before his flight in the morning.
We share our last kiss.
“When will I see you again?”
“I don’t know…”
We each head in our separate directions away from the Colosseum, secretly hoping that fate will bring us together again one day like it did in the eternal city.
In the SUAG community a lot of us have embraced the adventure of Tinder-ing around the globe. I mean just look at past articles like this one from Cassy and this video from Damon. But anyways, now let’s turn it over to YOU guys.
Have you had any Italian love stories? How have your experiences Tinder-ing abroad gone? Let us know below in the comments!